New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that he would soon reverse the vaccine mandate for city employees. Proof of vaccination requirements that led to 1,780 public sector employees in the Big Apple losing their jobs last year will soon be scrapped.
Workers who lost their jobs for not being vaccinated 12 months ago will still have to reapply to get their jobs back, though.
The mayor said that because the vast majority of workers are vaccinated, and because there are tools like Paxlovid available to prevent serious infection, the mandate has ‘served its purpose’.
It comes as pressure on the mayor to lift remaining Covid orders mounts. Former employees filed a $250million lawsuit in January, wanting to be compensated for lost income. They cited leading US officials such as President Joe Biden who declared the pandemic over last year.
The price of the vaccines in the US is set to rocket. While Americans have been able to get the jabs free over the past two years, out-of-pocket costs could soon be upwards of $100 for some.
Mayor Eric Adams announced Monday that New York City’s vaccine mandate for public sector employees would be lifted on Friday but employees let go as a result of it will have to re-apply to get their jobs back
Nearly 1,800 city employees lost their job in February 2022 because of the mandate. It was widely protested against by unions and workers in the city. Pictured: City workers protest in front of City Hall opposing the vaccine mandate
‘As we near our third year with COVID-19, we continue to evaluate existing measures and adjust them as needed,’ Anne Willaims-Ison, NYC deputy mayor for the Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
‘The City’s vaccine requirement is one such measure and has yielded significant results with 96 percent of city workers vaccinated with the primary series.’
Dr Ashwin Vasan, the commissioner of NYC health, said: ‘We’re grateful that we can now, as we leave the emergency phase of the pandemic, modify more or the rules that have gotten us to this point.’
Those fired for refusing the vaccine included firefighters, librarians, teachers and other city employees. In total, 1,780 employees were initially affected.
Police officers who were fired because of the mandate were given their jobs back as part of a September decision by the state supreme court.
‘The vaccine mandate was an improper infringement on our members’ right to make personal medical decisions in consultation with their own health care professionals,’ Patrick Lynch, president of the city’s Police Benevolent Association, said at the time.
These mandates were announced in October 2021 under then-Mayor Bill de Blasio. He said at the time it would ‘end the Covid era’.
Mayor Adams took office on January 1, 2022 and kept the orders in place. The deadline for receiving the shot for city employees was February 11.
When the order was put in place, the Delta variant was still the nation’s dominant strain.
Initially, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid vaccines were more than 90 percent effective at preventing infection from the virus.
Nearly every single adult New Yorker has received at least one shot of the Covid vaccine, with 90 percent of adults have gotten both shots. There has been little uptake of the bivalent shot, though, at only 16 percent
Only a month later, the vaccine-resistant Omicron variant emerged, plummeting the protection even people with booster shots had from infection.
Many argued that the change in the effectiveness of the shots made the mandate moot, with unions and city workers protesting to have if lifted in the days leading up to the deadline.
It was reported that 4,000 employees, around one percent of the city’s workforce, were still unvaccinated on the deadline day.
By the end of the workday, just 1,800 employees were still unvaccinated. They were placed on unpaid leave and later terminated.
In the time since, showing proof of vaccination was a requirement to be hired by the city.
The mandate has finally been lifted virtually a year after it went into place.
Starting Friday, the mandate will be lifted and proof of vaccine will no longer be a part of the application process for jobs with the city.
Those who were let go a year ago for being unvaccinated will not immediately receive their job back, though.
‘While the approximately 1,780 former employees terminated for failing to submit proof of vaccination will not be able to automatically return to their previous positions, they will be able to apply for positions with the former agencies through existing city rules and regulations,’ a city release says.
According to official data, 99 percent of New York City adults have received at least one shot of the Covid vaccine, with 90 percent fully vaccinated.
Only 16 percent of the adult population has received a bivalent dose.